What kinds of outdoor activities are there, and how do we combat allergies while we participate?
By Barrett White
From February until early in the summer, trees, flowers, and grasses begin to release pollen into the air. Pollen becomes the biggest allergy trigger during the springtime. “The type of allergy we see mostly is allergic rhinitis which can cause nasal congestion, nasal discharge, cough, sneezing, and itchy nose/eyes,” says Dr. Iliana Solano Medical Director of Pediatrics at Legacy. “In some other kids, it can cause rashes – like hives – and wheezing, especially in patients with a history of asthma.”
However, keeping children and adolescents active is incredibly beneficial to not only their physical health, but also their emotional and behavioral health. “Many studies have shown how outdoor activities help children develop fine and gross motor skills, foster the development of creativity and problem-solving, and improve self-esteem,” Dr. Solano says.
Outdoor activities don’t always have to be strenuous. Some of Dr. Solano’s recommended outdoor activities include:
- Painting or chalk art on the sidewalks
- Scavenger hunts
- Bird watching
- Fruit picking
- Reading a book
- Having a picnic
“And we like the Buffalo Bayou Trail,” Dr. Solano says. You can click here for a link to discover the local walking and cycling trails near you.
If sports or more strenuous activities are more your child’s (or your!) speed, these are always an option. Sports are offered at most schools and in many communities, too. “By 6-7 years of age, a child has developed the physical skills and attention span needed to participate in sports,” Dr. Solano says. “At this age, they still need a lot of guidance, but little by little, they will learn more about the sport they are participating in.”
“It is important to lead by example,” Dr. Solano continues. “If your child sees you are not interested in physical activities, they will likely not be encouraged to participate. But alternatively, some parents have the urge to put a lot of pressure on the kids while doing sports; instead, they should keep it fun and simple. Encourage, but do not force them.”
If your child is considering sports, bring them in to see their pediatrician each year for a sports physician exam. During this visit, the provider will ensure your child is healthy enough to play their sport and prevent potential injuries.
As kids grow older and into adolescence, some will assume a more serious role in sports. For these kids, you should continue to encourage them! However, other children may stop showing interest and decide not to practice a specific sport anymore. Dr. Solano advises that you always be respectful of their decision to pursue other interests.
But what happens if your child expresses interest in sports or other outdoor activities, only to become bogged down with seasonal allergies? To prevent exposure to pollen and other allergens of the approaching springtime season, it is recommended to check local pollen counts and limit outside activities when levels are high, Dr. Solano suggests. Other ways to mitigate seasonal allergies may be to:
- Change and wash clothes used outdoors
- Remove shoes before entering the house
- Vacuum floors frequently
- Bathe daily to remove pollen from the skin
Treatment of seasonal allergies includes both prevention and taking medication. “Make an appointment with your pediatrician to discuss treatment options,” Dr. Solano says. “The provider may recommend one or more medications to control the symptoms. Some of the most common medicines are available over the counter; others need a prescription.”
To schedule a visit with your Legacy pediatrician, make an appointment online or call us at (832) 548-5100.